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Cedric the Entertainer, John Leguizamo star on Broadway

Linda Armstrong | 4/12/2011, 4:34 p.m.
L.A. Williams Photos

Discussing his character Teach, Leguizamo explained, "He fancies himself a teacher, he's always trying to educate and elevate, but for his own sake. He's very paranoid, very neurotic. One of the inner city guys who is always edgy and thinks everybody has done him wrong. I feel that growing up in New York I knew a lot of cats like this, who were so, you know, kind of cool, always getting into trouble. Always going too far, but they were exciting to be around. There was always a buzz, but you never knew when it was going to turn around and clip into something wrong, but that vibe is so addictive." What will audiences get from the production? "Like any great play, it always says something about you and society at large that nobody is saying. It really questions male friendships and how there's always a slight competitive element in it and wanting to win some how. Men always want to win somehow--whether it be an argument or a game, and this play explores it. It also explores the fact that it's everybody's given right to be a business man, to make something of themselves. If you're not successful to pretend or front like you are successful no matter what economic level you're from. It doesn't matter how you get there, it's just that you get there. It's like what we have going on now in the banking crisis. They all wanted to make it big and it didn't matter who they took down." Looking at his fellow cast members, Leguizamo stated, "Everybody is that character. Cedric is patriarchal, very fatherly and he's honorable. Haley Joel brings that vulnerability like the character has--that naiveness." He added, "People should see the play: They are going to be moved. They're going to question their lives. It's going to make them really think about themselves and the situations they find themselves in. Sometimes you talk yourself into really bad situations and try to talk yourself out of it. It captures the aspect we're all in, mortgages are disappearing, the economy is disappearing, credit is disappearing. There's a lot of humor in this play and that's why they picked Cedric and I to do it. In past productions that wasn't brought out. The drama and the brutality are there too." Hearing the cast that was brought together for this production convinced Higginsen to get in on this project. "We've been busy with our own productions and building the Mama Foundation in Harlem and creating our own off-Broadway Harlem scene. When we were invited to participate and we heard the cast, we said we had to do this. We couldn't help but think that this is such creative casting. I love Cedric, he's an old time entertainer from back in the day. He can sing, he can dance, and he can make people laugh. He's a triple threat. So, to imagine that he's going to add this to his repertoire, to me that would be exciting to watch and think about. It's a diverse class, it's multicultural. You take a classic American play-wright, a classic American director and a classic American play, and this is the director's most favorite play of all time, and you put this type of casting in it. Now you have to say I don't want to miss this and that's why we decided to be a part of it," Higginsen said. What should attract audiences to this show? "It's a drama, but it's full of humor as well. It's sparkling, it crackles," Higginsen remarked. "If you want to see some of your favorite people doing things they haven't done, this would be a great reason to come out," Higginsen shared. To get tickets to "American Buffalo," call Telecharge